ABU DHABI: THE ULTIMATE SUSTAINABLE CITY OF THE WORLD
Abu Dhabi, having a hot and dry climate, will naturally face some environmental challenges that might hinder its ability to meet the demands of its growing urban population in a lasting and sustainable manner. Fortunately, the UAE government has adopted several measures to make the emirate one of the leading nations in sustainable development. In Abu Dhabi, for instance, the implementation of Abu Dhabi Environment Vision 2030 plays a crucial role in these plans.
The energy crisis is plaguing the whole world. Countering this, UAE has come up with several solutions to this in several aspects. For example, Waste Management. In Abu Dhabi, there is the Abu Dhabi’s Tadweer- Center for Waste Management has undertaken the responsibility for waste collection and waste facilities and providing license to private and environmental service providers. One of its primary duties is to create awareness and spread education among the masses about sustainable ways of living. In May 2015, first phase of a development plan designed to promote better recycling techniques among the inhabitants of the emirate was.
With the new initiatives, Abu Dhabi will be segmented in zones as per a 25-year recycling plan. Recycling centers are being built according to the type of waste produced in the respective area. It is hoped that a similar methodology is adapted by GCC too. Because of targeted recycling, it could lead to recycling centers being built near those areas where development is being done. In sustaining an economy in a viable manner, waste reduction and waste recycling plays a crucial role in the Abu Dhabi Environment Vision 2030.
The Environment Agency – Abu Dhabi has been quite active in coming up with a firm and detailed new framework for waste management. Several policies and regulations were implemented in November 2015 regarding sustainable methods of waste management and how to ensure it is continued. These new policies consist of waste classification policy, waste planning policy, waste reuse, waste permitting and enforcement policy, waste treatment and disposal policy among others. Waste classification is perhaps the most important for which a separate guideline is presented alongside it. It also defines the limit to what can be recycled to the maximum.
The government of UAE has been quite vocal in encouraging efficiency in waste management and later, commercializing it. The future promises excellent opportunities for development in the field of waste treatment, which also includes private investment. The emirate is already reaping a huge return on investment from high quality waste collection. It is now focused more on building waste treatment facilities that will make sure that these waste materials remain in a productive use instead of damaging the environment by being, say, landfilled.
Apart from waste management, the natural environment is something that the government is intensely focused on preserving and growing. In the year 2015, the government took legal action and made several laws and rules which are meant to protect the natural environment from being damaged and to promote the expansion of the protected wildlife areas. Regarding marine areas, 4 more areas have been added on the protection list. The responsibility of this whole project lies under the powers of EAD. Currently, the emirate has two marine protected areas.
It is testament to EAD’s capabilities that it has recently completed a whole project design on an ecotourism initiative that will open three protected areas to the general public. The first protected area in the emirate which was given recognition as a Ramsar site in 2013 is Al Wathba Wetland Reserve. Ramsar are a wetlands which are given international importance under the Ramsar Convention. The EAD’s program is going to introduce a nominal fee which will be used for reinvestment in the site’s management. There are many opportunities as tour guides and operators, the training of which will be provided by the EAD itself.
The UAE is taking various measures to fully utilize a data backed analysis when making an environmental policy on a national scale. In this, the Abu Dhabi government and the EAD both are playing a critical role. The EAD has highly emphasized the use of accurate and detailed data in order to properly make decisions. This can be seen by many projects undertaken by the EAD like the habitat mapping which was completed in 2015. EAD has also heavily supported the Abu Dhabi Global Data Initiative and the Eye on Earth movement that successfully held its second summit in October 2015. The summit brought leading experts from all around the world to promote the availability and the usage of environmental data when reaching towards the goal of sustainability.
Sustainability is on the verge of becoming a central concept whenever Abu Dhabi is mentioned. It will cover all aspects like private and public sector collaboration and various social, economic , cultural and technological aspects aside from the environmental aspects too and also the way they are interlinked with one another. Abu Dhabi however promises to be quite capable to responding well to these changes.